WATER COLOR, GRAPHIC
COMIC, DIGITAL ARTIST
I’m not really sure how old I was when I got the gift for Christmas, but I remember thinking it was a pretty impressive piece of electronic hardware.
I, Jasmine Rosa Emilia Hintsala, commonly known as Jasu, was born in 1993, on the 16th of March, in a tiny village of Finland called Oulainen. My family consists of 13 individuals: Mom, dad, five boys and six girls. I grew up surrounded by people, there were a lot of kids in my neighborhood and I had plenty of cousins and other relatives that I was often seeing. Even so, ever since being a little kid, I always enjoyed playing alone. I used to (and still would) go explore the unknown environment on my own. Many times I’d rather leave the crowd of people to have my little adventures in solitude.
The forest was my favorite place: I would go there and spend hours imagining that I was the fastest horse in the whole entire universe. There were hunters constantly after me, trying to catch and imprison me but I was the only horse they couldn’t catch. Then, in other occasions I turned into a tiger: I would be the most skilled hunter that had ever existed. The human-hunters never managed to track me but instead, I’d sneaked behind them to give them the last surprise of their lives. Every time I was swimming I turned into a dolphin or a seal, and when I was around 4 years old I would take off all my clothes every day exactly at 6 pm. because, naturally, animals didn’t have clothes. Then I’d run like a dog all around the house and the yard, not using my hands at all when it was time to eat and drink. I remember my dad once asking me what I was going to become when I’d grow up. Without hesitation I blurted: “A tiger!” Dad laughed and asked me: “What do tigers do?” To this too, I had a clear answer: “They eat small children and fat.”
Obviously, I was very passionate about animals and when around the age of 7 my dad bought a VHS player I would sit hours watching different nature documentaries over and over again. My passion for animals and nature was always going hand in hand with my passion for drawing. And so, when I grabbed a pen the papers would be filled with different animals. As mom saw me watching a nature documentary I hadn’t seen before, she’d often say something like this: “And now she’s going to spend the next two weeks drawing those dolphins”, and that was exactly what happened. Seeing the animals on the screen always got me thrilled to draw them. And so I kept drawing, drawing and drawing.
Above you can see a drawing from the time I was 6 years old. Whatever animals I drew, I often added diamonds and other jewelry all over them, except when it came to predators. In their case, everything was pretty much covered in blood, which can be seen in the picture below. That particular drawing I made at the age of 10.
I clearly remember one particular moment from the time I had just started the elementary school. I never went to daycare or preschool, so going to elementary school at the age of seven was the first time in my life that I’d spend my days away from home. One morning I arrived to school very early and it happened that one of my best-friends-to-be had done the same. So, the teacher asked us to come inside and gave us some paper, pencils and crayons so that we could draw. I happily started drawing: I drew a large grass field divided in two by a small stream on the left side of the paper. Then I drew horses grazing on the field. As I was completely immersed in the drawing, I suddenly heard a gasp from the girl sitting next to me: “Woaaah! That’s so beautiful! You can draw sooo well! Can I have that drawing?” I still remember the feeling of surprise and confusion that her reaction caused me to have. I had always loved drawing but it had never occurred to me that I was somehow “good at it”. I don’t remember anyone commenting my drawings at home to tell me if they were good or bad. I had simply been drawing because it had been so much fun.
My mom used to hide all the drawing paper from me because I had a tendency of using a huge pile of paper in just a couple of hours. This is why I started to draw on used envelopes and on the backs of the paid bills that I found in the kitchen garbage bin. In the third grade I got a new elementary school teacher and for the next 4 years we would be having our occasional arguments about my drawing style. I had a wild imagination and always paid attention to details. If we were told to draw “my day in a forest”, most of my classmates would draw something including themselves, a few trees and maybe a little bit of something else. Me however, would draw myself (probably riding some animal), then trees, then some different kind of trees, then bushes with different colored berries, pine cones all over the ground, anthill and mushrooms, tree stumps, stones of different sizes, others having moss on them and others having smiling faces. Then animals: There would be a bear lurking behind one of the trees, a moose, a reindeer, a stag with huge antlers, a hedgehog having a dinner with frogs beneath big leaves of rhubarb. There would also be a rabbit or two, a fox chasing a mouse, a snake, some lizards having a gathering, a woodpecker pecking a tree, some squirrels annoyed by the noise of it, birds flying all over the sky, some birds sitting on the branches of the trees, an owl peeking from a whole in a tree, the sun and clouds on the sky, maybe some rainy clouds too, then a rainbow, wolves, lynx and a weasel. All the animals that came to my mind needed to fit into the drawing.
Now, thinking back to those years, I guess it’s not a surprise that my teacher was losing his temper a few times. I was always very fast at drawing though, and even with all those details, I rarely had non-finished works because of running out of time. Nonetheless, sometimes the teacher strictly forbade me to draw so many details, for I was able to go on with them forever. Every time he did this, I went for revenge and drew something very hasty and totally below my skills. At home, I would tape several papers together to get one huge paper and then simply start drawing detail after detail as the ideas kept popping into my mind.
Seen above there is an example of my drawing style in elementary school. Below there is an excellent example of what happened when I didn't get to draw what I wanted to and went for revenge instead.
As the elementary school went on, I learned more and more about the fact that I was good at drawing. Eventually, the whole school knew about it. And even when drawing remained the thing that I enjoyed doing the most, it now slowly started to bring another factor to my life: Competition. I had always been good at drawing, always the best of my age, and I felt I had to maintain that reputation. So I kept drawing, drawing and drawing but as the high school started the enthusiasm of my childhood years was dying out. I still enjoyed making art, I was still good at it and getting better all the time but now the purpose of my art was steadily moving away from fun. I was never good enough. No matter how much I got compliments I never got myself to believe them. There was always something wrong with my drawings and I often complained about the mistakes in them.
All the years in school I had always been good at most of the subjects. My grades were excellent without me even trying. Though I was skilled, I lacked ambition. For me it was easy to memorize what teachers wanted us students to memorize and then write it down on exam paper. I had good grades even in the subjects that I was not interested in. But I never really cared about my school grades, only being good at drawing mattered to me.
Till the end of junior high school I mostly drew different animals, especially horses. Then, at the age of 16, I got immersed into the world of manga and anime. They inspired me to start drawing comics with human characters. I had been interested in drawing comics since elementary school and for years it had been my biggest dream to become a professional comic artist. But I hadn’t had the patience to actually create comics with plenty of pages until now. Also, finding other artists about my age, I got inspired to learn to color my drawings properly. So far it had been very rare for me to color any of my artworks.
Once a week I attended a teenagers’ art club where I met an art teacher who was the first person ever to give me critique on my drawings. That was something that I had never experienced before, especially not when it came to my drawings, for people had always only complimented them. Highly ambitious and eager to learn, I started making digital art and trying out all kinds of different tools to improve my technical skills.
At the age of 16 my animals began to gain their natural anatomy. Around the same the signature "Jasü" made its first appearances on my artworks. Instead of a regular u I wanted to use ü because it seemed to be smiling.
Through the years, art remained my favorite subject in school, but during the art lessons I never truly had the same passion that I had when I was drawing at home. Even in the art club, with my favorite teacher around, I was merely sketching. Only when I got to be on my own I truly got immersed in what I was doing. I was eager to learn anatomy and for the first time in my life consciously made an effort to study the muscle and bone structure of humans and animals to get them look natural in my drawings. Starting high school I found watercolors. All my life I had disliked using them (thanks to the very poor-quality equipment we had at school) but among the artists I was now following on the internet there were several creating amazing paintings with them. This proved to me that it was actually possible to get a beautiful and detailed result using watercolors. At that time, I decided to learn to paint with them because they were a lot cheaper than copic markers, which I desired but couldn’t afford. After buying my first set of watercolors, I remember trying them a couple of times, quitting frustrated because I couldn’t produce the result I wanted to have. Then one morning I woke up with a feeling of certainty: Today I’d succeed. And I did. Since that day watercolors have been my favorite medium when it comes to coloring.
Seen above is one of my very first watercolor paintings, made at the age of 17
Since elementary school, there were always artists that I admired: I wanted to be like them. My own style was never good enough for me and I repeatedly tried to copy their drawing or coloring styles, just to get frustrated because it didn’t work the way I wanted to. In the end, I’d always get back to my own style which I still was not happy with. At regular basis I found a new artist to admire, a new style to try, and a new disappointment to face. Getting closer to the age of 18, I was so unhappy with myself and my art that I began to hide myself. I was constantly drawing, more than ever: It was an obsession to me. Now however, I was only publishing my work online. My happy humans and animals turned into erotic gay-drawings. The times that I’d draw something and then happily go show it to my family and friends were gone. I was ashamed of my creations so I only felt comfortable showing them on the internet, to a specific, like-minded audience, safe behind the disguise of different accounts. I was more skilled than ever but still, I was never truly happy with what I created.
At the age of 19 I moved to Rovaniemi to start studies at the University of Lapland to become an art teacher even though I was not a tiniest bit interested in it. I only knew I loved making art, but honestly, being an art teacher didn’t tempt me at all. But since I didn’t know anything else I could be doing, I simply proceeded with my studies. I was stumbling blindly onwards without any destination. I only wanted to improve in making art, to get better, but there was no ending point to it. At the age of 21, having thousands of people from all around the world following, encouraging and complimenting my work on the internet, I still was unable to feel satisfied. I was making art only to seek acceptance.
I kept reaching out to get better without ever getting there. I couldn’t stop drawing even when it was tearing me apart. During the darkest times of my life, it brought me a reason to keep going. Despite all the pain and suffering that had come to surround it, there was still something about making art that held such a deep feeling of purpose that I cannot even start to describe it.
Today, I have founded my own company, Jasu Wonder World, to make a living as an artist. I permanently quit my university studies at the age of 22 to chase my dream. The idea for my own career and business was inspired by a good friend of mine who has helped me a long way from the depths of my depression to self-awareness and self-acceptance. Being the artist of Jasu Wonder World has now been my full-time job for over a year. Once again I am able to believe in myself and my creations and I’m immensely grateful for the life I have. It has not been an easy accomplishment though: I’ve had to do and face things I’ve been scared of my whole entire life. But now that I finally have a dream to chase, I have promised myself to do anything it takes to reach it.